A little holiday reading for history buffs and Gold investors...
THE TITLE MIGHT suggest a worthy treatise on the Gold Standard, but not at all. This is a history of the California Gold Rush – triggered by the discovery of gold in the water-race at Sutter's Mill on the Sacramento River in 1848.
The history is written in the style of an epic film, where groups of pioneers – sometimes whole families and all from very different backgrounds – hear of the astonishing quantities of Gold being picked out of riverbeds in California, and set out west to make their fortunes.
In every case the journey was hard. Various passages west, overland, by sea via Cape Horn, and via the jungles of Panama, are reconstructed from genuine archive material and evince the daring of the tens of thousands of people who made the trip. Through one of these accounts the infamous "Death Valley" got its name.
The fortunes and failures are intertwined chronologically, from the first breaking news of the money to be made, to the departures, the journey west, the encounters with native tribes, pirates and profiteers, to the frequently disappointing arrival and – a widespread complaint – the absurd costs of mining equipment once the digging was due to start.
The writing is in an easy style and is liberally mixed with genuine contemporary diary entries which rather than slowing things down simply take you back to the surprisingly recent past where these incredibly tough and resourceful people set out on a real adventure to face very real risks.
Interested in Gold? Then take this book on holiday perhaps, and give yourself a break from monetary and economic policy.